Well, if Friday night’s stalemate was anything to go by, we’re in for a thrilling conclusion to the Italian domestic campaign over the next few weeks!
Seriously though, it can’t get any worse right? That was dire – six seconds of penalty-miss-red-card madness aside.
Nevertheless, hoping to rid our memories of whatever that was at an empty Allianz Stadium on Friday night are Antonio Conte’s Inter, who travel to Gennaro Gattuso’s resolute Napoli side looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg in order to progress into the Coppa Italia final.
There’s always a little bit of an edge to the contests involving ‘The Godfather’ and here’s the starting XI he could deploy for the Nerazzurri’s long awaited return.
Samir Handanovic (GK) – The Slovenian shot-stopper’s absence was hard felt over a three-game period in March, with back-up Daniele Padelli proving almost incompetent. The Italian’s suspension mean Handanovic is a shoo-in for this one – as if he wasn’t already.
Antonio Candreva (RWB) – Somewhat of a comical figure among the Interisti – helped by recent TikTok exploits – Candreva has enjoyed a resurgent campaign in a wing-back role under Conte and has proved a superior option to Victor Moses thus far.
Milan Skriniar (CB) – A fixture in Conte’s back three this term, Skriniar has enjoyed another sound campaign despite some arguments of a decline in the 25-year-old’s play. He’ll be looking to regain his dominant form in Inter’s late season surge.
Stefan de Vrij (CB) – There was talk of Andrea Ranocchia retaining his place in the ‘cup side’ but in a crunch game like this, Conte just has to have Serie A’s standout defender this season patrolling the Nerazzurri’s backline.
Alessandro Bastoni (CB) – Technically proficient, proactive and aggressive, Bastoni is the ideal Conte defender and has the potential to be Italy’s next great centre-half. The 21-year-old beat out Diego Godin for a starting berth before the break and is yet to show why he should relinquish that position.
Ashley Young (LWB) – A move that was bantered off when it first emerged, Young has done a fine job since his January move. Cristiano Biraghi’s struggles for consistency and Kwadwo Asamoah’s poor old knees, meanwhile, should see the Englishman start in Naples.
Marcelo Brozovic (CM) – An underrated star. Brozovic is the linchpin in this Inter side with his intensity, ball-winning prowess and verticality in possession – everything goes through the Croatian.
Stefano Sensi (CM) – Blessed with elite dribbling skills and superb spatial awareness, the dynamic Sensi was so crucial to Inter’s early success this term, forging a great relationship with the front two before fitness woes derailed his – and the Nerazzurri’s – season. Nevertheless, the Sassuolo loanee is fit and firing once more and just about gets the nod over the equally impressive Nicolo Barella.
Christian Eriksen (AM) – Inter didn’t unnecessarily splurge near enough £17m for Eriksen to sit on the bench. He needs to play. Thus, a switch to a 3-4-1-2 – which Conte has deployed on a couple of occasions since January – will allow the Dane to play in a freer role and should get the best out of him.
Lautaro Martinez (ST) – That’s right, ‘Lula’ are back, baby, and maybe it’s their last rodeo amid persistent speculation linking El Toro with a move to Barcelona. The Argentine will be keen to get amongst the goals once more following a five-game barren spell before the break.
Romelu Lukaku (ST) – No player has racked up more minutes in Serie A for Inter this term than Lukaku (2,143) or goals (17), he serves such a key function in Conte’s system and there’s just no way he won’t be in the starting XI for the trip to Naples. The Belgian also bagged a brace in the Nerazzurri’s most recent trip to the San Paolo in January as Inter secured a 3-1 victory.